We had the pleasure of meeting Kate Saul, manager of chocolate heaven. AKA; Cocoa Atelier. I know, I know just swallow!
How do you express your passion of chocolate through the boutique?
Firstly the fact that Cocoa Atelier is the only dedicated chocolate boutique in Dublin says a lot about how passionate we feel about our product. The boutique is a space dedicated to celebrating the magnificence of chocolate in a calm and chic environment where the product is the hero. Following on from that, our staff are the people who have the day to day contact with our customers and they relate the story of how each chocolate is made only minutes away from our premises, how fresh chocolates differ from other chocolate product offerings you see on your supermarket shelves and how to handle and store the chocolate so it tastes at its best every time. The environment, the range and the staff all combine to offer our customers a unique boutique experience.
The boutique flirts with your senses. Tell me more about the interior design.
We try to keep the look and feel of the Chocolate Boutique as minimalist as possible so that the product does the talking. It is a sleek, modern space designed to complement the product range – it serves as a quiet backdrop rather than a busy environment. In terms of interior design, I suppose the feature piece that tends to become the talking point among customers are the amazing whisk feature lighting – two chandeliers that are made up of kitchen whisks. They were sourced by the owner at an auction in Paris before a shop space was even secured. They originally belonged to the magnificent Meurice Hotel on Rue de Rivoli, Paris.
Do you feel that brands such as ‘Green & Black’ and ‘Lindt’ created awareness in different varieties of chocolate?
Yes, in terms of mainstream chocolate, Green & Black along with highlighting organic chocolate certainly put high cocoa content on the map. They also have an interesting range flavoured bars – their chilli chocolate packs a punch!
Is sourcing beans almost like selecting grapes for a fine wine? Where do your beans originate from?
Yes, exactly that! Just like wine, terrier is all important to the end taste of a chocolate. Our single origin chocolates emphasise this. They are 100% pure plantation chocolates with no infusions. If you do a lateral tasting you will note very subtle flavour differences travelling from Dominican Republic with its mild liquorice notes through Venezuela which leans towards a more aromatic, floral style and on to Papa New Guinea and it’s full bodied more peppery taste. Our beans are sourced from Chocolaterie de l’Opera based in Avignon, France. It is a family run company with the Deloisy brothers at the helm. They specialise in sourcing single origin chocolate and insist on refining the beans without the added vanilla flavouring which you so often find in the makeup of other chocolate destined for manufacturing. We receive it in tablet form and then melt it down for use in our production facility.
Do you cater for vegans or those who suffer from lactose intolerance?
Our chocolates are made fresh daily, only twenty minutes away from our Boutique in Dublin 12. They are free from additives and preservatives and are gluten free also. Whilst they are not dairy free, we use fresh Irish cream in the production of our signature ganache. We do stock a host of other confectionery items that cater for different dietary requirements. The shop assistants are very knowledgeable regarding each individual product and are always happy to direct people towards a suitable product that fits their requirements.
What food or drink would you recommend to compliment your chocolate?
Whiskey is an excellent compliment to chocolate and we run tasting evenings from time to time combining the two, which are fun. We also have paired our single origin chocolates with wine, tasting notes for which are available in store. For a non-alcoholic option, look no further than the range of French juices and nectars from Alain Milliat that we stock in the basement of the store which is divine – unique flavours such as Fig, summer pear or white peach. As for the macaroons, a glass of Rose champagne and a raspberry macaroon is said to be an aphrodisiac.
Words: Seana Henry
Photography: Stephen O’Neill